8 And I answered, ‘Who are you, Lord?’ And he said to me, ‘I am Jesus of Nazareth, whom you are persecuting.’ 9 Now those who were with me saw the light but did not understand the voice of the one who was speaking to me. 10 And I said, ‘What shall I do, Lord?’ And the Lord said to me, ‘Rise, and go into Damascus, and there you will be told all that is appointed for you to do.’ 11 And since I could not see because of the brightness of that light, I was led by the hand by those who were with me, and came into Damascus.
12 “And one Ananias, a devout man according to the law, well spoken of by all the Jews who lived there, 13 came to me, and standing by me said to me, ‘Brother Saul, receive your sight.’ And at that very hour I received my sight and saw him.
Paul is telling the crowd in the temple on Passover about his conversion experience so that they will see his validity and in turn, Jesus the Messiah. When this happened in Acts 9, it was told to us by Luke who had gathered the story from talking to Paul. In this account, Luke is recording what Paul said to this crowd.
You know how you tell a story 10 years after it happened? How you leave out some parts but include the much more emotionally impactful parts? Look at what Paul emphasizes here. Not that he fell off his horse or why he was on the road.
- It was actually Jesus who he was persecuting, not “Jesus’ followers.”
- The others saw the light, but only Paul heard what Jesus was saying
- Paul knew right away that the Lord was going to tell him what to do — to give him orders
- He thinks he was blind because the light was so bright (It was noon, the brightest part of the day, and yet what Paul saw was even brighter! He doesn’t know scales fell off of his eyes except by Ananias telling him. All he knows is that he got his vision back!)
- Ananias was a devout man according to the law that gave him back his sight
Remember, this is as many as 25 years after these events happened. Ananias might be long gone, as well as the soldiers that escorted Paul and the Jewish leaders in Jerusalem that sent him. But if every Jewish man from all over the world is supposed to be in Jerusalem for this Passover, some of the guys in the crowd may have heard this story before.
The point of this retelling isn’t to give a newspaper report, but to establish Paul’s authority. Look at these things that happened to him! These visions and experiences are on the same level as the Old Testament prophets. We have a chance to consider and listen, or to do like ancient people used to do with the prophets and ignore them.
We, like the folks listening on that Passover feast, have a chance to pay attention and see if maybe what Paul has to say is true.
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